The Network Readiness Index (NRI) by the Portulans Institute has shown the leading economies’ response to the pandemic with Europe the most ‘network ready’ part of the world, but with US and China leading the way in networking technology.
The latest edition of the report the third compiled by the Portulans Institute since taking over the Index from the World Economic Forum in 2019 – ranks a total of 130 global economies based on their performance across 60 variables. STL, the industry leading integrator of digital networks, is the NRI’s official knowledge partner. The NRI is organised around four key pillars: technology, people, governance and impact, with subcategories within each pillar, spanning 60 metrics overall.
The Portulans Institute says the Covid pandemic has been a global tipping point in the adoption of technology, arriving at a time when many digital technologies had reached a degree of maturity, allowing them to be deployed on a large scale rapidly.
The NRI report measures the impact of this accelerated digital transformation on governments, businesses, and individuals. Among the top-line findings was that even though the top ten countries from the NRI 2021 remain the same as last year, there has been significant changes within the group. The Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark were identified as the top three most ‘network ready’ societies. The Netherlands moved up three positions to take the number one spot from Sweden, which has held that position since 2019. The US is now ranked in the top five for the first time in the 2019-2021 period. With a total of eight countries in the global top ten, Europe was the best performing global region on the Index.
Yet when it came to networking technology – ranking in the top five in each of the technology sub-pillars of access, content, future technologies – the US remained the global leader. Even though China was a leading player in areas such as artificial intelligence, e-commerce and 5G, but only ranked #29 overall. Among the world’s largest economies, India was notable for rising places 21 places compared to last year’s ranking, rising to #67. This performance, beyond technical aspects, captures India’s digital network accessibility, including the affordability of mobile devices and tariffs in the country.
Yet while the leading economies were preparing for networks to support post-Covid economies, the survey showed Africa continuing to trail other regions, especially when it came to access, affordability, and usage of ICTs. The Portulans Institute stressed the study showed just how the pandemic has further amplified inequalities through recognisable social, economic and political changes, which became particularly evident in terms of vaccination and debt-financing. “A strong recovery is now taking place in many parts of the world, and digitization will be one of its core drivers. However, several factors could derail the recovery train, including a lack of digital talents and skills, and a possible resurgence of the digital divide between rich and poor countries,” remarked Bruno Lanvin, co-founder and director, Portulans Institute. “Technology can help us avoid a ‘K-shaped recovery’, but this requires immediate and coordinated efforts in three key areas: infrastructure, education, and governance.”
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